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A poem by Joanna Baillie

An Address To The Night: A Sorrowful Mind

Title:     An Address To The Night: A Sorrowful Mind
Author: Joanna Baillie [More Titles by Baillie]

How lone and dreary hangs the sombre Night
O'er wood and valley, stream and craggy height!
While nearer objects, bush, and waving bough,
Their dark uncertain forms but dimly show;
Like those with which disturbed fancies teem,
And shape the scen'ry of a gloomy dream.
The moon is cover'd with her sable shrowd;
And o'er the heav'us rove many a dusky cloud;
Thro' ragged rents the paly sky is seen,
And feebly glance the twinkling stars between:
Whilst earth below is wrapt in stilly gloom,
All sad and silent as the closed tomb.

No bleating flock is heard upon the vale;
Nor lowing kine upon the open dale;
Nor voice of hunter on the lonely heath;
Nor sound of trav'ller on the distant path.
Shut is the fenced door of man's abode;
And ruffling breezes only are abroad.
How mournful is thy voice, O nightly gale!
Across the wood, or down the narrow vale;
And sad, tho' secret and unknown they be,
The sighs of woeful hearts that wake with thee.
For now no friends the haunts of sorrow seek;
Tears hang unchidden on the mourner's cheek:
No side-look vexes from the curious eye;
Nor calm reproving reasoner is by;
The kindly cumbrous visitor is gone,
And laden spirits love to sigh alone.
O Night! wild sings the wind, deep low'rs the shade;
Thy robe is gloomy, and thy voice is sad:
But weary souls confin'd in earthly cell
Are deep in kindred gloom, and love thee well.

But now the veiling darkness passes by;
The moon unclouded holds the middle sky.
A soft and mellow light is o'er the wood;
And silv'ry pureness sparkles on the flood.
White tow'r the clifts from many a craggy breach;
The brown heath shews afar its dreary stretch.
While fairer as the brighten'd object swells,
Fast by its side the darker shadow dwells:
The lofty mountains form the deeper glade,
And keener light but marks the blacker made.
Then welcome yonder clouds that swiftly sail,
And o'er yon glary op'ning draw the veil.
But, ah! too swiftly flies the friendly shade!
Returning brightness travels up the glade,
And all is light again. O fickle Night!
No traveller is here to bless thy light.
I seek nor home, nor shed; I have no way;
Why send thy beams to one who cannot stray?
Or wood, or desert, is the same to me;
O low'r again, and let me rest with thee!

[The end]
Joanna Baillie's poem: Address To The Night: A Sorrowful Mind